Many service providers in New Zealand fit into the small to medium business size category. Like many service providers, we would all like to have our own full suite of hosting and connectivity products from nationwide network, multiple data centres, and the ability to future proof our offerings by releasing continuous products and service updates as soon as they are created. Delivering this value to clients can only be accomplished through successful partnerships in the New Zealand market. Part of the issue is that New Zealand is a small (globally speaking) but sophisticated market, and the customer expectations are high. However, given its geographic location and size, the cost of business is expensive and highly competitive. To be a leader in IT services and to offer our customers the very best in technology and service, it is critical to forge relationships with strategic partners with a view to the future development of technologies and with market demands in mind. Establishing a true partnership – a relationship which allows you to lean both ways, not just transact with the right partner – is of significant importance. While we look at how our technologies complement each other and how we can share technical expertise to identify and implement the best product for our customers, we also look for common synergies and values to ensure we have the same ideals which are to provide the very best for the customer base. Virtual functionality The move to virtual computing isn’t new. Virtual computing environments have been carved out on mainframes since the sixties, its only in recent years the virtualisation of our computing resources has been across one or more machines somewhere at the end of a network connection, commonly revered to as the cloud. In Europe and certainly in the USA remote computing (Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Software as a Service, virtual office, virtual desktop, etc.) is common place for many businesses. It is also expected to become more widespread in the New Zealand market in the coming months, and although limited, you can already see cloud services becoming more common place now. Hosting businesses need to be in a position to offer a premium virtual (Cloud Computing) offering before or as the New Zealand market opens up. As the Pacific Fibre project nears completion, we will be competing with established offshore competitors that due to size and economies of scale have more competitive pricing and a mature business model. In order to compete on price, and offer superior local service, it is crucial to forge strategic business relationships with a small number of IT partners that enable you to offer a comprehensive product suite to meet on-going market demands. Keeping it simple In the past hosting companies have tried to partner with many services providers across the network, data centre, and services space. However, going forward we need to limit our partners and forge meaningful relationships with just a few partners as maintaining business relationships is costly in terms of time and resources. Too many relationships in your business model add complexities associated with disparate technologies, an overwhelming choice of service offerings and conflicting business agendas. These complexities eventually have a negative effect on our business and that adversely affects the service we would provide our customers. Customers expect a one stop approach; they need to know that they can place a call for assistance or advice, and so the partnerships we hold with our IT providers should allow for a seamless service experience. It is important to select partners based on their reputation, price, flexibility, and service offerings. Always look for a provider based on the added value that you can pass on to your customer base. The aim should be to provide customers with a competitive edge in the market. To achieve this means we need to work on consolidating reports and billing, or continue to evaluate and test the latest technologies, at the same time leveraging the technical expertise available through our partnerships to the greater benefit of our customers. Our current cloud offering is a solid "IaaS” service, however through our partnerships we continually look to improve on its performance, ease of configuration, back end connectivity, and customer value-add options. You should always be working closely with your network providers to enable delivery of the latest products to ensure you remain competitive. The hosting market will continue to mature with the convergence of Cloud functionality and connectivity. Keeping up with the acceleration of new products and technologies, while gaining an effective return on investment, is the challenge all hosting companies face.